6 Tips for Finding a Specialist for a Second Opinion



Ask the doctor who diagnosed your breast cancer or is treating you now. You might phrase your request this way: “If you or your loved one were in my situation, whom would you consult about the diagnosis and treatment of the breast cancer? Which specialist(s) would you see?” Ask your doctor to recommend someone at another institution. You also could pose this question to a nurse, social worker, or your own primary care physician.

Search the websites of major cancer centers or medical centers in your area, or call the physician referral line. You should be able to find the names of physicians who specialize in breast cancer, along with information about their backgrounds and training. If traveling outside your area is an option, you can do a broader search for breast cancer specialists.

Target your search within the National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer centers. The NCI, part of the federal government’s National Institutes of Health, has recognized 67 cancer centers nationwide for “scientific excellence and the capability to integrate a diversity of research approaches to focus on the problem of cancer.” In addition to searching online, you can call the NCI’s Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER or consult with an information specialist through LiveHelp.

Use your network of family and friends. You probably know people who have been affected by breast cancer — either through their own diagnosis or the experience of a family member. Ask around and find out which doctor(s) they saw and whether they were happy with the care they received.

Post a request to an online forum or support group, such as the Discussion Boards right here at Breastcancer.org. People in your immediate area or region of the country may have recommendations based on their own experiences and research.

Look into online second opinion services such as those at the Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins, and Harvard-affiliated Partners HealthCare.

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Learn more in our Getting a Second Opinion section, including:

  • why you may want a second opinion
  • when to get a second opinion
  • how to ask your doctor for a second opinion
  • what to do once you’ve received a second opinion